Oh, I've got quite a few. I can't remember the first games I ever played, but Pokemon Red and Blue are the first games I really remember playing. I'm still a Pokemon fan at heart and have a soft spot for turn-based RPGs even now. It's one of my favorite genres. I also think Pokemon is the root of my semi-obsession with collection as a concept, for lack of a better term. To this day I like the concept of collections, I like things with a ton of content. I like long, comprehensive books, I like encyclopedias, I like big chunky worldbuilding books, additional materials around franchises I love - give me the Pokedex book and the Game of Thrones history book, the huge lists and comprehensive history books, the giant coffee table game art books and books reviewing all the best games for each system. I like learning everything I can about whatever subject I happen to be into.
I trace all that back, in a way, to Pokemon. As a kid with, at the time, zero Internet access I didn't know there were 151 Pokemon. Going on new routes and finding new Pokemon all the time was so awesome, and seeing the Pokedex fill up and not really knowing how it would end was an experience for me. Even today while I'm a bit disillusioned with the franchise I still enjoy seeing the new Pokemon introduced and no game series has done as near a good of a job replicating it.
When I was a little bit older, to relate it to SC a bit, I played GTA: San Andreas. And that game had so many cheats that I couldn't remember them, so I had a little binder where I wrote them down or printed them off, and I got them all off of SC. I made my account around that time, also to answer Pokemon questions. GTA is the only game I ever did that with, and nowadays games either don't have cheats or it's faster to just look it up than to write it down. Now I'm more likely to look up a guide for a tricky trophy or achievement, which just doesn't feel the same.
Besides that, Smash Brothers and Mario Kart have had a big effect on me. I've sad it before, but from the time I was a toddler till I was about 12 or 13 my cousin lived next door and he came over every day to play games. And the two series we played the most were those two, hours and hours. Still my two favorite party/local multiplayer games. The trophy feature in Melee and Brawl fed into my "collection" thing too, I would spend hours by myself just going through the trophies and reading their descriptions and all about the games they were from, mostly games I hadn't, and still haven't, played. And I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention the hundreds of hours we spent exploring the worlds of Kingdom Hearts and the 3D Pokemon games, Colosseum and Gale of Darkness. For a short while I also collected the strategy guides they made for these games and I still have maybe a half dozen of them that are nice and well-used.
My parents were and still are very slow on the uptake of new tech, so it wasn't until 2007 that we got broadband internet having had dialup previously. At that same time all my friends in school were playing the MMO Maplestory, and that game also fostered my appreciation for content. Grinding for hours, exploring all the zones. My friends dropped off pretty quick, but I stayed on for a while. Even now I install the game every once in a while and while it doesn't hold much appeal for me now I still love it. And the gorgeous music.
A little more recently, as I was getting done junior high and entering high school Call of Duty 4 was huge for me. It was my first foray into online games and I had a whole group of friends that played every day. When that game came out there was no mute feature, so we met some colorful characters. I met dozens of friends through that game, all but one I've lost touch with, but I'll never forget some of those guys. Also my first time playing a shooter game. We played the games after COD4, but nothing quite caught the same magic of coming home from school, finishing homework as fast as possible and hopping on the game with no other responsibilities. That and Grand Theft Auto 4 freeplay lobbies. We spent so much time making up our own games. GTA 5 online was a big disappointment in that respect.
As I went through high school and my interests developed a bit I got more interested in history and tech I started to delve a bit more into PCs and PC gaming. I bought a physical copy of Civilization 5 in late 2010 at a Walmart, and it had no disk inside, just a code to put into "Steam". And that's when I made my Steam account and gaming on PC has now become about equal to console for me. I love Civilization and strategy games. Then later in college my roommate got me into Grand Strategy games like Crusader Kings, and Crusader Kings 2 might be the game I've played the most individually. It's fostered such a love for history that I had the seeds of before, but playing that game has made them flower. It's not a passion I turned into a career but it has definitely shaped my interests and hobbies, a deep effect on how and what I read, and has turned me on to hobbies like mapmaking and building my own worlds that I don't think I would've been into otherwise.
As an aside, and no specific game, but as I've gotten older I don't like the twitch reaction games much anymore. I've found myself playing a lot more adventure and point-and-click games. I like the mysteries, the stories, the music, the writing is usually a cut above other games. To The Moon is a game I'd recommend to anyone, if you don't like the story or writing that's one thing but that is the game that really showed me what video game music could be. Check out the soundtrack on youtube. And the genre as a whole has really shown me the value of taking a lazy rainy weekend, slowing down, and curling up with a nice cup of hot chocolate listening to the rain and working through a nice slow point and click. In college I was always rushing around, working a job and taking on extra classes, I had a girlfriend and roommates and something was always going on, some party or event or venue we just had to go to. Never a weekend to just stay inside and relax. Since graduation a few years ago I'm much more lonely but also much calmer and easygoing and I think getting into that genre has had a part in that beyond just getting older and growing up.
Those are probably the last games that have really had an effect on me as a person. As I've gotten into my mid-20s I feel like I'm starting to solidify as a person, and most games now are just fun experiences instead of life changing ones. I've written a lot here, and I love games and have been playing them for over 20 years, but when I really think about it I haven't played that many games - at least not the games people usually think of as genre defining and foundational. I've played a few Marios, almost no Zelda, no Metroid or Kirby, I've never finished a Final Fantasy or played a Half Life, never played any Doom or Chrono Trigger or any Sonic game. I've finished one Dragon Quest game. Fighting games are mostly a mystery to me. In many ways I feel like a "fake gamer" - besides the games I've talked about, most of my other gaming experience is in licensed games like the Dragon Ball games or in sports games. A goal for me for the next few years is to go back and play some of those seminal works, at least to give them a try. I was born too late to really enjoy SNES games and much of the PS1 library in their own time, and the majority of my PS2 and Gamecube days were filled with Smash and Kart and DBZ games. Most of my PS3 days were filled with Call of Duty and GTA 4. When I wasn't playing those games or sports with my brother or doing homework I was posting here. There was no time to play the classics. Then I went to college and delved a bit more into PC games, but mostly strategy, so I missed out on all the classic PC games. I still haven't learned to play games with the WASD and mouse layout. I'll always prefer a controller. Now I find myself uninterested in most of the new games coming out, so I'm looking backwards a bit.
I apologize for the essay, but this is a good thread idea and I think there could be a lot to talk about. Nowadays I try to balance my games with more reading, though I still play games for a few hours every week. We need a books/reading thread too. In some ways I enjoy reading about games and the industry and the wider tech world just as much as I actually like playing the games.
« Last edited by steelersrock01 on Mar 17th 2022 »